A big part of being a football fan is talking about the past. What’s better than sitting down with a pint as you recall historic moments, players and teams with your mates? These memories bring us feelings of euphoria, nostalgia and even heartbreak. But what if we could see into the future of football? In Fast-Forward Football we bring you exactly that; the most iconic stories yet to come.
It’s the year 2038 and a 73-year-old Piers Morgan sits in complete silence. Well, there’s the sound of a football match playing on the television in the background, but he doesn’t hear it. His stomach churns like freshly whipped butter as a single tear travels down his cheek before his withered gray beard absorbs it. He had never grown a beard before, but ever since Marouane Chamakh took control as Arsenal manager he realized there was no point.
It was moments earlier when an aged Jack Wilshere missed a pivotal penalty against Birmingham City, securing Arsenal’s relegation into the EFL Football League One. Only two seasons ago his precious Gunners barely missed out on promotion during an electrifying playoff battle with Wigan Athletic.
“It… it wasn’t supposed to be like this,” sputters Morgan. “It was all supposed to change for the better once he left, not the worse.”
He wipes away a second tear before it can escape his lacrimal gland while he looks over to the other side of the room through his glazed eyes. All he can see through his repressed tears is the blurry outline of an Arsene Wenger shrine lit only by a bin of burning Arsenal jerseys. Next to the shrine sits a box of recently ordered ‘Make Arsenal Great Again’ hats.
It has been eleven years since Arsenal were relegated from Premier League, but the country saw it coming long before then. Ever since Arsene Wenger and Arsenal parted ways back in 2018, the team seemed to lose its mojo completely. During the 2018/19 season, the Gunners still managed to finish respectfully in the top half of the table, but it was only a steep descension from there.
He wasn’t the only one who chanted ‘Wenger Out.’ Arsenal fans across the country thought the same thing. Wenger was holding them down, not keeping them afloat. If he had left back in 2011, they could have won the double numerous times, right? Wrong.
Sure, there were rumors of great managers coming in to replace him, but by August the only remaining candidates willing to take the job were Patrick Vieira and Mikel Arteta. It didn’t seem like that bad of a scenario at the time and they eventually hired Vieira, but by mid-February Ivan Gazidis fired him and Arteta had moved on to Everton. Seven managers later and Chamakh was hired on during the 2034/35 season.
“That spiky-haired prick has ruined my life,” snarls Morgan, as his depression transforms into rage. “If Wenger was still in charge we could still be in the Champions League every other season, maybe winning an FA Cup here and there.”
A vein on Morgan’s head throbs as he wipes away the foam building at the side of his mouth. It couldn’t get worse for Arsenal now. Suddenly a calm comes over him, and he knows what must happen. There is a man who he owes a lot to, but most importantly, a man who he owes an apology. Morgan hastily picks up the phone and hits number one on his speed dial. After three rings the call goes through.
“Ello? Mr. Wenger speaking.”
“Arsene, it’s Piers… please take me back.”